Sunrisers Hyderabad are banking on Afghan-leg-spinner Rashid Khan to fire one more time against the Chennai Super Kings in Sunday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) final.
After a string of brilliant performances in the IPL, the 19-year-old Afghan will be in the spotlight as the Sunrisers seek a second title — and a $4-million prize — against Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Super Kings, according to an AFP report.
Rashid’s spin bowling has made him one of the hottest properties in cricket over the past year. But he has shown in the IPL this year that he can bat too.
His 10-ball 34 and three crucial wickets set up the Sunrisers’ semi-final win over the Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday.
New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, a last-minute replacement for scandal-tainted David Warner as the Sunrisers’ captain, said Khan would be vital in the final.
“He was brilliant but he’s got another game, so we’re going to keep him… under wraps,” Williamson said after Friday’s win in Kolkata. “He’s had a great season for us. Now it is important we move on and focus on the final.”
Sunrisers’ bowling spoke for itself even before a ball was bowled, and true to reputation, the entire unit proved the bowling attack of the tournament, according to The Times of India report.
On Friday night, Sunrisers were looking like they’d end up on another middling total, but Rashid’s stunning 34 not out off 10 balls ensured a finish of 174/7. That gave the bowlers plenty of lift, and once wickets started to fall the Sunrisers stamp was all over this game.
Rashid’s excellent performance saw him grab 3/19 to consign Kolkata Knight Riders to defeat and put Sunrisers in the final.
In the meantime, the age of the Chennai players had been in focus from the time the player auction took place ahead of IPL 2018, according to Hindustan Times report.
On Saturday, as the team got ready to lock horns with Sunrisers in its seventh IPL final, Dhoni lauded the experience in his squad but added a caveat.
“Experience really counts, but it’s not that it always matters. It’s not something that can’t be replaced. The good thing is we have managed with them very well,” he told reporters on Saturday.
It will only be the second final for Sunrisers, who beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2016 to lift their only title.
While they would want a repeat of that, they would also be wary that they’ve lost all three games to Chennai this season.
“Both teams have a lot to play for and both teams have an opportunity to play a final against one another. Both have been really competitive throughout the whole competition,” Sunrisers’s captain Kane Williamson said.
The match will kick - off on Sunday 5:00pm local Kabul time. It would first trophy for Rashid, if Sunrisers beat Chennai.